When then-ViceÂ PresidentÂ Dick CheneyÂ stated: “If there’s a 1% chance thatÂ Pakistani scientistsÂ are helping al-Qaeda build or develop a nuclear weapon, we have to treat it as a certainty in terms of our response.Â It’sÂ not about our analysis…it’s about our response,”(1) it was clearly evident that the “war on terror” had been lost. Mythical wars that are emotionally charged and irrationally fought, especially with imaginary and impulsive feelings, always fail.
At the same time, and in order to perpetuate a war of myths, fiveÂ Bush AdministrationÂ officials had to specifically make “237 false and misleading” statements on the Iraqi threat in 125 public appearances. In the month ofÂ September 2002, the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, the Bush Administration is on record as having made nearly 50 misleading and deceptive statements to the public.(2)Â AlongÂ with mythical wars, failures always arise when leaders use tragedies and the dead to advance predetermined agendas.
And whenÂ Zacarias MoussaouiÂ shouted: “AmericaÂ you lost. I won!”, just after being sentenced to life in prison for his role in the Sept. 11 attacks, it was clear that he had a better grasp of reality than his opponents. A nation that mistakes a hegemonic imperial war utilizing terror and violence carried out in its name for a war against “terrorism,”(2) which includes the entire world, will always lose.Â In the end, realities trump myths, in this case, the myth ofÂ AmericanÂ Military andÂ CorporateÂ Exceptionalism.
Al-Qaeda has won the “war on terror” because theÂ United StatesÂ has failed to implement a very important principle of war. In “The Art of War“Sun Tzu, an ancientÂ Chinese militaryÂ stratigist, wrote: “No countryÂ benefited from prolonged warfare.” Selling a war and persuading a population to continually commit to lengthy occupations and multiple troop deployments is difficult in and of itself.(3) Selling a war to populaces takes the employment of varied and ubiquitous messages.
However, selling more than one war, even three four and five at the same time, demands unquestioning allegiance of hearts and minds and the sacrificing of liberties. It is possible, at least for a short time, especially with such advances in information and cultural management, which is necessary for thought and behavioral control, to sell more than one war and to fight on many different fronts. But as human and resource sacrifices accumulate, militant and fascist-like expansionist states thrive on borrowed time.
Neither can they sustain for long the prevailing conditions of a glamorized, virtual, video-game war-like existence. Such a nation and its manipulators, that secure popular support for a social order that is not in the majority’s long term real interest, collapse.Â InsteadÂ of dividing and conquering their enemies, they themselves are conquered by being divided due to trillion dollar war debts.Â NeglectÂ towards veterans and a negligent nation-building policy from within merely add to a failed state.
Al-Qaeda has won because theÂ U.S.Â is unable to correct a collectively biased, socio-centric, and projectionist global view. While dismissing other opinions and overseas facts, it unconsciously references only those perspectives that fuel pre-existing views. It is trapped inside of its own tribal psyche and social norms, pretending to assume that most of the world agrees with it or desires the same goals and outcomes.(4)Â The worldÂ does not, and yet the United States still pursues a fatalistic unilateralism.
Projecting an exclusive and collectively ego-centric world view, with an over exaggerated confidence, is very dangerous, even deceptive, especially when it is transferred onto other groups like al-Qaeda, which is only one of among thousands. Not everyone wants to embrace modernity and technological determinism. And while such groups perceiveÂ U.S. militaryÂ interventions as neocolonialism, materialism can never satisfy human spirituality. Nor will marketing ever be able to dominate human dignity.
Al-Qaeda has won due to its ideological tenets, which are actually a paradoxical and philosophical belief system. It is similar to hundreds of other faiths that are also searching for meaning and how to make sense of the world. Like most faiths, it too is based in human nature which is often resistant to change. Yet strangely enough, al-Qaeda is able to adapt incrementally, or just enough to maintain its structure and rigidity which is greatly admired. Contrarily, unstructured, unethical societies, like the U.S., are resented.
Geographically, Al-Qaeda is stateless. It is also very efficient and expansive, even inexpensive as a fighting force. After spending trillions of dollars and killing millions of people, the U.S. has yet to realize this reality. For example, aÂ National Intelligence EstimateÂ compiled from sixteen U.S. spy agencies concluded that the U.S. effort, particularly inÂ Iraq, had only fueled the idea of jihad, or a defensive war against the U.S. While the U.S. failed to adjust its policies, al-Qaeda-like groups continued to expand.
As the U.S. continues to militarily intervene, fighting costly and unrealistic wars, it bolsters a deeply held historical narrative: the real and present “threat” has always been American Military and Corporate Exceptionalism. It is not that some necessarily identify with al-Qaeda, but that they identify with the cause of resisting U.S. imperialism. They want to distance themselves from America’s policies of world domination, and its indiscriminate wars and killings-observed when theÂ TowersÂ ofÂ LebanonÂ were destroyed.
Al-Qaeda-like groups are “trans-national.” They are estimated to be in sixty-eight countries, includingÂ Algeria. Although their beliefs and customs vary, they share the spirit of decolonization, hoping to maintain their traditional religious, political, economic, and social systems. Therefore, they battle against theÂ BritishÂ Petroleumization of the world, which has killed many more people than the finale that transpired. But theÂ WestÂ never views images of corporate genocides, another reason the war of myths thrive.
Al-Qaeda and al-Qaeda-like organizations are also “trans-historical.” They did not have to spread intoÂ Mali,Â Somalia,Â Sudan,Â Syria, Iraq,Afghanistan,Â Pakistan,Â Saudi Arabia,Â Libya, andÂ India, along with dozens ofÂ Western nations. They were already there, in the hearts and minds of many populaces. And like Algeria’s bloody hostage crisis, which was another tragedy in the “war on terror,” many will be questioning the differences between just and disproportionate responses, which the U.S. should have done after Sept. 11.
The CIAÂ defines terrorism as “the premeditated use or threat of extra normal violence or brutality of sub-national groups to obtain a political, religious or ideological objective through intimidation of a large audience.”Â The RepublicanÂ andÂ DemocraticÂ Parties need al-Qaeda for their constituents’ defense and military sectors, and for leverage to accuse and demean each other while keepingÂ AmericansÂ in a state of fear.Â The U.S.Â needs al-Qaeda and al-Qaeda-like groups too, using them to fight its proxy wars as it did in Syria.
TerrorismÂ has been around in one form or another-as has its vague and elusive language and meanings-at least as long as have government and organized religion. No one likes hypocritical posturing and double standards more than those who are delusional and hypocritical. In a pseudo-democracy: “FearÂ is theÂ State‘s psychological weapon of choice to frighten citizens into sacrificing their basic freedoms and rule-of-law protections.”(5) And fighting mythical wars is one way of maintaining political and economic power.
Was the mass-mediated spectacle ofÂ Osama bin Laden‘s assassination really worth $7 trillion dollars, which is nearly half of America’s national debt? America lost, al-Qaeda definitely won.
Dallas Darling (firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Dallas Darling is the author ofÂ PoliticsÂ 501: AnÂ A-ZÂ ReadingÂ on Conscientious Political Thought andÂ Action, SomeÂ NationsÂ AboveÂ God: 52 WeeklyÂ ReflectionsÂ On Modern-DayÂ Imperialism, Militarism, And Consumerism in the Context ofÂ John‘s ApocalypticÂ Vision, andÂ The Other SideOfÂ Christianity: Reflections onÂ Faith, Politics,Â Spirituality,Â History, andÂ Peace. He is a correspondent for www.worldnews.com. You can read more of Dallas’ writings at www.beverlydarling.com and wn.com//dallasdarling.)
(2)Ibid., p. 431.
(4)Ibid., p. 105.
(6)Zimbardo, Philip. The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil., p. 430.